Who comes to mind when you think of the concept of courage? Is it the athlete who powers through the debilitating injury to lead his team to victory (or simply just finish a race)? Does the idea of courage bring to mind those who are first responders—the people who run toward the danger while everyone else is running away? Perhaps you think of individuals who have overcome the odds and accomplished some change or transformation in spite of great obstacles. Courage is often associated with overcoming.
While they may not be the first people who come to mind when we envision courage, to me, the Lord’s faithful prophets during King Ahab’s reign in Israel absolutely embody courage. The author’s commentary on the character and rule of Ahab is astounding. “Still, there was no one like Ahab, who devoted himself to do what was evil in the LORD’s sight” (1 Kings 21:25). He was an utterly wicked man. So to be a faithful prophet of the Lord in the land of Israel, confronting the wickedness of Ahab, was dangerous.
Yet, there were some who did the job. Specifically, in today’s passage, we have the examples of Elijah and Micaiah, two prophets full of courage who spoke the truth of the Lord to Ahab. While Ahab kept prophets on retainer for whenever he needed a spiritual word to affirm his evil, a small few did not sell out their calling in order to placate the ears of the proud king. Instead of telling Ahab what he wanted to hear, they were committed to saying what God wanted to communicate—and that earned them a reputation. Ahab hated Micaiah but admitted to Jehosophat, “There is still one man who can inquire of the LORD, but I hate him because he never prophesies good about me, but only disaster” (1 Kings 22:8).
Micaiah was devoted to saying whatever the LORD said to him (1 Kings 22:14), and in doing so, he embodied real courage, the kind we need more of today. The courage of Micaiah is a challenge for us—to be men who say and do what the Lord calls us to say and do, even when the world around us pressures us to change or compromise. We may be afraid to speak the truth in the face of worldly power or to deal with the potential consequences of saying things that may be hard for some to hear, but being men of courage means remaining faithful to God in word and deed, regardless of how we are received.
This isn’t a license for us to be jerks in our speech. We’re different from Micaiah in that we don’t have a message of bad news to share with people. We have an astounding message to share—one of hope, peace, and grace: the good news of the gospel. We are called to do so with “gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15–16). Our gracious King and Savior, Jesus Christ, has taken our judgment to the cross, and now we get to tell others about His mercy and love.
Courage looks like being faithful and obedient to the Lord. It’s embodied in sharing our hope, even when people may not receive it or accept it. Courage believes the blessing of God for “servants who do his will” (Psalm 103:21). May we be men of courage in Christ.
Written by Jeremy Writebol